As ads, content, and platforms increase in number, people’s attention spans become shorter. It’s not enough to have a space on the Internet nowadays like a profile on every social media or a website—almost everybody has all those now.
The more urgent matter is, do people stay on yours? This topic is becoming more and more prominent because having people’s attention gives you the power to make money. Improving your website speed comes with that territory, and that’s what we’ll try to resolve in this post.
Why pay attention to your WordPress website’s loading speed?
When people click on your link or open your website, they only stay on average 10 to 20 seconds. At least that’s what the stats say. In real life, if you take your own experience, loading time of about 5 seconds already feels like an eternity.
I admit to exiting out of some sites if they take too long to load. As what is said in the video, the Google Webmaster blog indicates that a website’s loading performance is not the only factor for a high search ranking. It should be in equal balance with having great relevant content.
However, it still should be considered and if you can perfect it and achieve that balance, you’ll likely rank higher on SERPs. Here are the ways that you can improve your website’s speed on WordPress.
Quality hosting provider
The problem with a shared WordPress hosting is that you share the server with all the other customers who use the same hosting service. There are a lot of factors that come into play that affects the speed of your website, including how much of that server’s capacity other people use and how much is left for you.
Since WordPress is still a popular option for hosting nowadays, a managed WordPress hosting service is also gaining in popularity. This just means that a dedicated host will manage your WordPress website on a specific server optimized for the platform. It also means they will take charge of every technical work of handling a WordPress website including speed among other things.
Updated technology (PHP, HTML, CSS, etc.)
There are always new updates to technological tools for WordPress websites these days for resolving bugs and other improvements and upgrades. Sometimes, those include your website’s loading performance.
For example, as of November 28, 2019, the latest supported PHP is 7.4 version. All the security issues and bugs that you may encounter will be resolved if you have this version. That’s the importance of constantly updating. With a managed WordPress hosting, they will also take care of this aspect and give you notice if you need to upgrade.
Light and simple WordPress theme or framework
WordPress themes come with widgets, features, and so many elements that may slow down your website. Some themes that may look good on the surface but are actually pretty messy and chaotic in the coding aspect. The best course of action for this is to choose a simple theme that is optimized for speed and without the bloat of unnecessary features.
Minimum image sizes
At GCA, I prefer to use the JPEG format for images because they’re the compressed version. It means they don’t take up a huge image size. Compared to PNG format, JPEG has lesser quality but I find that it doesn’t matter much as long as you have a good image to begin with.
You can use an editing software to optimize your image for the web and compress it to a smaller size without affecting quality. You can also use some plugins that are built to optimize images so they don’t affect the overall speed of your website.
Good caching plugin
When visitors go to your webpage, it takes a lot of processing steps before it can display information to the visitor. If you take a lot of visitors at once, this long process holds up the loading speed for some users.
Caching is the method of saving the information of your webpages and pulling that out to every visitor. This saves loading time up to 5 times faster. You can choose from a lot of caching plugins on WordPress that are dedicated to increasing your site’s loading speed, such as:
- WP Rocket
- W3 Total Cache
- WP Super Cache
Content delivery network
Loading speed also depends on the location of your hosting provider. Naturally, if they have their servers in a specific area or country, for example, website visitors near that location will experience faster loading times than visitors from the other side of the world.
What content delivery networks do is save your default website information in servers in other parts of the world, so visitors near that area of the world can also experience a quick loading speed. For better performance, make sure you choose a CDN that is perfectly compatible with your WordPress site and caching plugin, if possible.
Clear WordPress database
Your database increases every time you revise posts, create drafts, tables, image copies, among many other things that you might not be aware of. Simply saying clear out your WordPress database is actually a lot of steps and a lot of work.
That’s why plugins exist to do this specific task of finding what data are no longer important for your website and that are slowing it down. If you already have plenty of content to go through, resorting to plugins might be the only sensible option. But afterwards, make it a point to regularly check and clean your database from unnecessary data that may pile up.
Website speed is a big factor to your website’s bounce rate, if not the main factor. People on the Internet are already faced with so much stimuli as it is, and if your website can’t keep up, it doesn’t stand a chance in capturing people’s attention. In effect, this could also affect your conversions.
These are only some ways to increase your website’s loading speed. Most of these are best done on a regular basis to keep your website literally up to speed.